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G.C.
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515 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Just wanted to see if there were any stories, or advice, on how owners have handled employees constant hints they want to go it alone and want your help starting getting licensed and starting their own business.

Years ago I worked for a construction company that always opening encouraged their employees to go out and do their own thing if they wanted. This seemed like a good strategy because it diffused the whole negotiated for more money attempt and made the company not look like a scared tyrant wanting to keep their employees to the plow.

Also, if any of you had a story about a key employee wanting to go it alone who was a mutual friend of a potential customer who could give your company some large contracts.

I am sure the first part of the question above is a common problem and I am sure there has been a thread on it somewhere but, wanted to put it out there new and see if anyone had stories or advice. Thanks


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DavidC
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2,550 Posts
The more valuable an employee is the more likely he will go out on their own or move on to better pay. There are currently several contractors in the area that used to work for me. I've been told that prospective employers seem to like to see my name in the work history also. Both are good for the ego btw.

One guy struck out on his own and ran his business in the gray area, no insurance, prefers to be paid in cash, pays his help in cash, etc. He now has a full time job and still operates on the side. Says he can't afford to be legit, doesn't see how I can do it. Excellent tradesman, poor businessman.

I offer my assistance these days to any employee I think wants to step out on their own. They are told that my help is free and freely offered if they promise they will do it legitimately. One guy is only working part time, and little of that right now. We spent some time together recently to show him how to calculate his pricing for some work he is bidding. I'm pretty sure he is leaning toward the gray area also, but I expect him to remain with us once things pick up again.

It is a tough sell to convince someone that they need to be legitimate.

But another guy apparently was paying attention. Best shingler I ever trained set up his own shop years ago. Last year they suffered a fall and the worker was covered. He came to me with no experience and I taught him to roof. Before long he was shingling circles around me. Most of my employees had trouble keeping up. This guy paid attention and is a good learner.

My thought is you can't stop it so you might as well do your best to promote good practices. It's better for everyone.

Good Luck
Dave
 

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David Festa
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2,561 Posts
Bad Apples

I hired a new carpenter a few years ago. He mentioned he does fiber glass decks and pans on the side.
I have a general rule in my company, EMPLOYEES NEVER TALK TO THE HOMEOWNER. All my guys know the basic rules, keep your mouth shut and tell the homeowner to ask the boss. A week goes by and he’s an ok carpenter, doesn’t talk much, keeps busy, I only explain his assignment one time, which is a big deal for me. The home owner came to the job and he didn’t waste any time going over and talking to him. I knew what he was up too. I just ignored the situation, wrong move on my part. A few days later he wasn’t the same carpenter, showed up late, and started talking a lot. I called the homeowner to tell him the deck would be ready on Friday for fiberglass, the homeowner tells me my guy is doing it, I flipped out. I fired the guy on the spot. I called back the homeowner and suggested to find someone else, as that I cannot voage for this guy being he is a new employee. The homeowner used him anyway. By this time the bad apple has not worked for me in 3 weeks, I get a call from the home owner where is the fiberglass guy?
Rut ro, this guy took the $5000.00 and ran. The messed up part is the homeowner is a State Trooper
lesson learned
Whenever I get the hint that an employee is not happy or wants to go out on their own I start looking for replacements. I never let my company be in a position where an employee will not just show up; I always have a back up. Then I slowly weed the bad apple out, this way I’m testing the new employee/ employees, and not burning any bridges with my current guys. I have had guys go out on their own, only to fall flat on their faces. The end results may make you look bad. This is why I generally start leaving them home on jobs that might cause a problem with a home owner or another contractor. Im a framing contractor and a general contractor. So when I’m working as a framing contractor for another GC I need not have an employee try to get good with the GC
 

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The Duke
Joined
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14,746 Posts
I hired a new carpenter a few years ago. He mentioned he does fiber glass decks and pans on the side.
I have a general rule in my company, EMPLOYEES NEVER TALK TO THE HOMEOWNER. All my guys know the basic rules, keep your mouth shut and tell the homeowner to ask the boss. A week goes by and he’s an ok carpenter, doesn’t talk much, keeps busy, I only explain his assignment one time, which is a big deal for me. The home owner came to the job and he didn’t waste any time going over and talking to him. I knew what he was up too. I just ignored the situation, wrong move on my part. A few days later he wasn’t the same carpenter, showed up late, and started talking a lot. I called the homeowner to tell him the deck would be ready on Friday for fiberglass, the homeowner tells me my guy is doing it, I flipped out. I fired the guy on the spot. I called back the homeowner and suggested to find someone else, as that I cannot voage for this guy being he is a new employee. The homeowner used him anyway. By this time the bad apple has not worked for me in 3 weeks, I get a call from the home owner where is the fiberglass guy?
Rut ro, this guy took the $5000.00 and ran. The messed up part is the homeowner is a State Trooper
lesson learned
Whenever I get the hint that an employee is not happy or wants to go out on their own I start looking for replacements. I never let my company be in a position where an employee will not just show up; I always have a back up. Then I slowly weed the bad apple out, this way I’m testing the new employee/ employees, and not burning any bridges with my current guys. I have had guys go out on their own, only to fall flat on their faces. The end results may make you look bad. This is why I generally start leaving them home on jobs that might cause a problem with a home owner or another contractor. Im a framing contractor and a general contractor. So when I’m working as a framing contractor for another GC I need not have an employee try to get good with the GC
At one point, all of us were beginners. But I agree, the people who work for you.....don't say nuthin' to no one.

How did you break out?
 

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David Festa
Joined
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2,561 Posts
Homeowner/GC

I really can’t comment on what happen to the bad apple, I will say this: don’t mess with a State trooper if you have warrants. There’s a bigger story with the homeowner. He tried being the GC on his own house, mistake.
The plans called for vinyl siding and timberline roof shingles, You would think the GC/ homeowner would tell the Framing Contractor and architect that he changed the roof to clay terracotta and stucco on the walls
Well the 2 x 10 rafters cannot support that kind of load, wasn’t easy but we fixed it
The fiber glass deck over hang was set up for 1” overhang for vinyl siding
Stucco requires 2 ½” overhang, to make matters worse the gutter guy jammed his z channel in-between the fiberglass and the stucco, can you guess where the water went? It gets better, the stucco guy installed the ¼” ? round sealer at the transition of the stucco and the foundation, can you guys what happens to the water that is now running down the wall behind the stucco?
Its trapped, LOL, the homeowner asked for me to help him at this point, the adjacent side of this wall is a 26’ great room with all windows, my window pans can only hold so much water, when it rained from the east it looked like a water fall, LOL
Keep in mind two Anderson reps, the stucco manufacture and the roofer are all at the job, of coarse its my fault, I installed the window pans incorrectly, so I get pissed off and start ripping off stucco, I grab the bottom of the stucco where it meets the foundation and pulled it out from the wall, I have never seen so much water, it was like A dam exploded, we turned around a the stucco installer jumped in his truck and split, one of the proudest moments of my life was to hear two Anderson reps say I was right
 

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Pompass Ass
Joined
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2,090 Posts
Just wanted to see if there were any stories, or advice, on how owners have handled employees constant hints they want to go it alone and want your help starting getting licensed and starting their own business.

Years ago I worked for a construction company that always opening encouraged their employees to go out and do their own thing if they wanted. This seemed like a good strategy because it diffused the whole negotiated for more money attempt and made the company not look like a scared tyrant wanting to keep their employees to the plow.

Also, if any of you had a story about a key employee wanting to go it alone who was a mutual friend of a potential customer who could give your company some large contracts.

I am sure the first part of the question above is a common problem and I am sure there has been a thread on it somewhere but, wanted to put it out there new and see if anyone had stories or advice. Thanks


.
I had a guy who worked for me making pretty good money, quit and went out on his own, he wanted to do home inspections, and then started doing home repairs (no license), that didn't work out very well as he couldn't find enough work, so he started working for a lawn company mowing lawns, at about 1/2 to 2/3 less than I was paying him.

Now he is doing building maintenance, he is probably making 1/3 less than what I was paying him, if he is lucky.

I have no problem with people starting a business on their own, it just looks a lot greener when you are on the other side of the fence.
 
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